Sicilian capers are highly prized and widely considered as being amongst the finest in the world. This is because they are cultivated in the highly nutritious volcanic soil in perfect conditions – hot and windy – which gives them a higher acidity and a sharper bite than, say capers from gentler Mediterranean climates such as Spain. Bursting with fragrance and flavour, they deliver a unique salty and piquant character to freshly baked pizzas and summer salads such as my gently steamed crunchy green vegetables dressed with Mallorcan caper and sultana dressing. Tradition dictates that, on the first weekend in June, locals and Italian ‘slow food’ enthusiasts are encouraged to travel to the isolated and windswept town of Pollara – the backdrop the movie Il Postino – for the annual caper festival where they can enthusiastically celebrate these humble little berries by eating them in season just yards away from where they were grown. This quick and simple salad is inspired by that festival and those early Sicilian summer days when the small and sweet local Datterini tomatoes are just beginning to naturally detach themselves from the vine.
400g Datterini tomatoes (or very ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes), rinsed and cut in half
3-4 tbsp capers, thoroughly rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
How I make it
In a bowl, gently mix the tomatoes with the capers, a generous slug of olive oil and the oregano.
Season to your taste remembering that the caper berries will retain some of their salty flavour from packing.
Cover and allow the ingredients to mingle together at room temperature for around an hour. Give the salad a light sprinkling of oregano before serving.